The economic growth of India in recent history has seemingly bypassed a majority of the country. Despite having the ninth highest overall GDP in the world (World Bank), India still has a higher population of poor people than any other country (Zagha). Zagha offers five ideas on what might cause this inequality: A lack of ample infrastructure, an inability to generate jobs, especially for unskilled workers, the inaccessibly of healthcare and education for many of India’s citizens, increased urbanization, and the questionable effectiveness of government programs (Zagha). While all five of these issues contribute to India’s inequality, the most egregious of India’s shortcomings are the inadequate infrastructure and the lack of education.
In India, basic services, such as clean drinking water, are often too expensive for low class citizens to access. While the rich can afford to have water brought to them in tankers, the poor are forced to rely on public services that are rationed out unfairly, leaving the poor with unfit living conditions (Zagha). These conditions often lead to health problems, which only further a family’s economic hardship (Zagha). Additionally, in many poor communities, there are no public transportation services, or roads, for that matter, leaving no way for children to travel to school (Zagha). This prevents poor citizens from gaining the most valuable resource of all, education.
A proper education is the only way for poor citizens to achieve social mobility. While India may appear to have a successful education system due to its elite schools ranking among the best in the world, it is not accessible to a majority of the society (Zagha). Additionally, women in India lack many of the same rights as men, leaving them to a literacy rate 17% less than men. (O’Neil). In 2009, a law was introduced that, “makes education a fundamental right and reserves 25% of school seats for poor children.” This law was upheld in 2012, which could certainly be a sign of progress for India’s education system (BBC). By providing a good education for people of all classes and genders and ensuring that an effective infrastructure is in place to guarantee sufficient living conditions, India could create new opportunities for millions of people and significantly reduce its gap in economic inequality.
Zagha, Roberto. 2013. “India’s Inequality: An Uneasy Reconciliation with Economic Growth.” Current History 112 (753).
O’Neil, Patrick H. Cases in Comparative Politics. 5th ed. S.l.: W W Norton, 2015.
World Bank Database
India’s right-to-education law ‘valid’ – Supreme Court